Couple agreed to pay $ 2.25 million in fees they had hired illegally on Airbnb

Couple agreed to pay $ 2.25 million in fees they had hired illegally on Airbnb

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN)

The city of San Francisco has reached a settlement of $ 2.25 million. Two real estate owners are accused of illegally renting 14 apartments on Airbnb for nearly a year, prosecutor Dennis Herrera announced today.

Landlords Darren and Valerie Lee agreed to a fine of $ 2.25 million and agreed to an amended injunction prohibiting them from leasing at least 45 apartments in 17 buildings, which they would lease out at least until May 2025 as short-term rental properties have.

The settlement and amended injunction were filed today with the San Francisco Supreme Court. In comparison, the Lees do not admit that they have participated in a wrongdoing. Her lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

Herrera said: "This result frees up more housing for long-term tenants and stops unfair competition in the marketplace." The heavy fine is an important deterrent.

"Most importantly, we have received more than 45 housing units that can be used as living space, not as hotel rooms," he said in a statement.

Under the Municipal Code, homeowners may offer short term rentals of less than 30 days, such as those provided through Airbnb, for only one residential unit, and that unit must be the owner's own residence.

The case against Lees stems from a lawsuit filed by Herrera against the couple in 2014 for allegedly illegally converting a Clay Street property into short-term rental property after the tenants were evicted by the Ellis Act.

The lawsuit ended in 2015 in a settlement in which the Lees agreed to pay $ 276,000 and follow an injunction that prevented them from violating the city's short-term rental law for the buildings they own. to offend.

Herrera claimed in a filing in May of this year that the couple violated the law and the injunction between May 2015 and April 2016 by promoting short-term rentals for 2,851 days and 2,271 overnight stays for 1,451 units on Airbnb have profits of more than $ 700,000.

The city claimed the apartments had been leased on behalf of friends, relatives, and employees of the Lees who posed as tenants or Airbnb hosts of the units.

It was claimed that the apartments would look like tenants lived there, but each unit had the same staging with the same Costco food, the same set of breakfast dishes in the sink, the same collection of shoes and clothes in cupboards and the same houseplants.

The original target was a $ 5.5 million fine, consisting of $ 750 for each day each apartment was offered and $ 1,500 for each day an apartment was rented.

Mr. Herrera said the $ 2.25 million settlement will cover the investigation costs and finance the future enforcement of consumer protection, including the enforcement of the short-term leasing law.

The injunction filed today changes the original order of 2015.

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